Blogs > Burney's Bytes

Burney's Bytes will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Burney's Top 20 Girls Hoopsters

Top 20 Girls Basketball Players in Oakland County – 2009/2010
1 Madison Williams    DCD – Long, Lanky, and most dominant post presence in the state
2Jenna Bachrouche     North Farmington – Polished "inside-outside" threat
3 Lauren Robak           Waterford Lakes – Pound-for-pound, the best player in the county
4 Lyndsey Booker        North Farmington – The definitive "combo guard"
5 Troy Hambric           DCD – Athletic "do it all" type
6 Caroline Johnson      Novi – Behind the MSU-bound Maddie Williams, Johnson's the best post player around
7 Rachel Melcher       Marian
8 Stephanie Locke       Lakeland – The OC's top underclassmen not named Lauren Robak 
9 Amber McCann        Southfield-Lathrup – Overwhelming force to be reckoned with in the paint
10 Jecara Carthane     Pontiac Northern – Pesky and athletically-gifted guard set to lead the city of Pontiac's post-Lenora Green regime in its first two seasons for the newly-formed Pontiac HS Phoenix
11 Kyra Littlejohn        Southfield-Lathrup
12 Autumn Cantrell    MH Madison
13 Ashli Pearson         Roeper
14 Amber Alexander   Oakland Christian
15 Hillary Braun          Rochester
16 Lena Thomas          Andover
17 Jailyn Hamilton      AH Avondale
18 Krista Hakola          WL Central
19 Alexis Haan                        Lake Orion
20 Allie Laidlaw          Oxford

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback - Sham-Wow!!!

Mad propers go out to the CC Shamrocks, who rocked and then rolled Sterling Heights Stevenson 31-21, on their way to the school's 10th state football championship on Saturday afternoon at Ford Field. The crazy-legged CC backfield of senior FB Niko Palazeti (34 carries, 146 yds 2 TD's) and senior TB Anthony Capatina (20 carries, 189 yds 2 TD's) ran roughshod over Stevenson's defense for over 330 combined yards on the ground and four touchdowns. On the opposite side of the ball, the Shamrocks, lived up to the hype and brought the noise to star Stevenson QB Jason Fracassa and his highly-vaunted offense almost the entire game. CC led 21-3 at halftime and didn't surrender a Fracassa's TD pass until late in the third quarter.  Linebacker Mike Kinville and cornerback Andrew Nelson both came up huge down the stretch for the Shamrocks' "D" (eight shutouts on the season) and each picked off Fracassa passes in the fourth quarter to sew up the title for the Blue and White. The Shamrocks complete the campaign with a perfect 14-0 record and the first state title for the tradition-rich program in six years. CC's "wooden mitten" is the first state championship for the OC since 2005, when Brother Rice brought home the hardware.
Often lost in the hubbub of CC's dominating offensive attack has been the rock-steady play under center of senior quarterback Sam Landry all season long.  Landry is not flashy, but he's a classic game-manager type with a very high gridiron IQ, who made all the plays he had to in order to get his team to the mountain top. In the finals against Stevenson, Landry came through in the clutch again and completed a key 4th down pass play late in the game to keep a CC drive going. After Landry steadied the ship, the 'Rocks pulled in front for what would prove to be an insurmountable two possession lead at 28-14.  Landry probably won't be making any all-state or even all-tournament teams, but make no mistake his leadership and on-field savvy under center is a primary reason CC walked away with the crown on Saturday. The kid's numbers speak for themselves – twice as many touchdowns than interceptions. Congratulations, Sam, on a great senior season!
I've received a lot of feedback from my coverage of OL St. Mary's loss to EGR in the D3 state finals in regards to me commenting on an official's call late in the game. From my point of view, when I saw it  - a tipped pass on 4th and 14 that was caught by Kirk Spencer and kept the Pioneers' game-winning drive alive -and then saw it replayed, I thought I saw it hit the turf prior to going into the EGR receiver's hands. I can fully admit that I could be wrong and I apologize if anyone saw my coverage of the event as taking anything away from the Pioneers titanic comeback effort. There's a reason that EGR has won four straight state titles – it's called intestinal fortitude and the Pioneers have heaps of it. Regardless, Spencer made a great play and showed why you never give up on any play until the whistle has blown. And furthermore, EGR junior QB Ryan Elbe was outstanding all game long and cool as a cucumber on the team's final drive, eventually hitting Deon Jobe for the clinching 15-yard score in the back right of the end zone. I in no way, shape or form intended on diminishing the EGR triumph, but merely wanted to point out the nip-and-tuck nature of the contest as a whole and how one play or one call can turn an entire game around in the blink of an eye.
OLSM sophomore James Ross is a beast. I gave this kid the nickname "Doomsday" a few weeks back for good reason – his presence in the game spells doom for everyone and anyone in his path to the ball. Living up to his nickname, Ross collected a game-high 16 bone-crunching tackles in the Eaglets defeat in the d3 state championship game. Watching Ross brings back memories of former St. Mary's all-stater and current NFL'er David Bowens. With Bowens' old black "number 6" tatted on the front and back of Ross' jersey, it could easily give someone who has had the overwhelming pleasure of seeing both play, déjà vu. I can't wait to see how my main man, "D-Day" finishes off his prep career. And I also feel sorry for all the opposing running backs, qb's, and receivers who he will be lighting up like pinball machines over the next two seasons. His pursuit of the ball is relentless and his sideline-to-sideline aggressiveness and instinctive nature throughout the flow of the game, gives me the heavy suspicion that Ross will end up playing major college football in the fall of 2012.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

St. Mary's Stunned In State Finals

By Scott M. Burnstein
Special to The Oakland Press
Almost every team has one – that one arch-rival that it has to beat in order to get over that proverbial hump. For the pre-championship "Bad Boys" Pistons of the late-1980's it was the Boston Celtics. For the Tigers of late it's been the Minnesota Twins. And finally to put things in prep perspective, for the last couple years of Orchard Lake St. Mary's Eaglets football, it's been the East Grand Rapids Pioneers.
Well, the Eaglets won't be getting over that hump anytime soon, as they dropped the Division 3 state championship game in dramatic fashion to EGR for the second time in three seasons by the score of 24-21.
Despite having a phenomenal game, eclipsing the 300 yard mark of total offense and scoring two of the Eaglets three touchdowns, senior quarterback Robert Bolden fumbled as he crossed mid-field on a scramble with under 50 seconds left to play. The Pioneers, who trailed for most of the 4th quarter, proceeded to go into victory formation and run out the clock.
St. Mary's took its final lead of the game at the 9:21 mark of the 4th after junior Cortez Riley scored on a 3-yard touchdown run.
Much like Clarkston's loss to Sterling Heights Stevenson last week in the D1 semi-finals, this game will be remembered for controversial decisions by head coaches and referees alike - most notably, a very questionable call by the officials that allowed EGR to continue its game-winning drive in the final two minutes of the game.  On 4th and 14, Pioneers quarterback Ryan Elbe's throw was tipped up in the air 15 yards downfield and appeared to have hit the turf prior to landing in the hands of EGR's Kirk Spencer. But, the referee closest to the play ruled it a catch and instead of St. Mary's celebrating almost certain victory, the Pioneers had a first down in the red zone and all the momentum it could handle. With less than 74 seconds on the game clock, Elbe then hit a wide open Deon Jobe in the right corner of the end zone for a 18-yard touchdown to win it for EGR.   
This is the fourth time St. Mary's has lost to EGR in the last two years. The Pioneers topped St. Mary's in the 2007 state championship in a 5-overtime classic and the season openers for the 2008 and 2009 campaigns.
The loss is bittersweet for the Eaglets, who have been playing superior football since the playoffs started in October and finish out the year with an overall record of 8-5.
After a scoreless first quarter, Bolden scampered into the end zone from 13 yards to put St. Mary's ahead, 7-0, early in the second quarter.
EGR tied things up at 7-7 with under 35 seconds to play in the half when Elbe hit senior tight end Collin Voss for a 7-yard touchdown reception. Voss is headed to Central Michigan University on a basketball scholarship next season.
It looked as if the Eaglets were going to be able to reclaim the lead before the break when senior captain Gary Hunter (playing with a cast on his right hand due to a broken arm suffered in the regional finals again Detroit Crockett) returned the ensuing kick-off 68 yards and then on the first play from scrimmage Bolden hit receiver Allen Robinson for a 24-yard reception down to the 1-yard line with eight seconds left to play. But St. Mary's ran two rushing plays and couldn't punch it in and EGR went into the intermission celebrating its last-second stop.
The Pioneers' Bobby Aradema booted a 25-yard field goal to open the second half scoring at the 4:08 mark of the third quarter before Bolden answered with a spectacular 83-yard touchdown run off a broken play to put the Eaglets in front 14-10. On the play, Bolden broke past the Pioneers secondary and sprinted past a pair of EGR d-backs into the end zone.
Not to be out-done by his Penn State-bound QB counterpart, Elbe, only a junior, came right back and connected with A.J. McEwen on a 68-yard TD bomb, providing his team a 17-14 advantage in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
Bolden proceeded to march his team back down field to re-take it's last lead of the game. On a contested roll-out of the pocket at midfield, he hit Nick Larson, who made a leaping grab, and the ball was on the goal-line.  Two plays later, St. Mary's own version of Refrigerator Perry, stout Eaglets junior lineman Cortez Riley, barreled through the EGR "D" for a 3-yard rushing score.
It wasn't to be, however, and the Eaglets and their fans will be faced with a year's worth of "what if's."
In the end, both the official's decision and St. Mary's head coach George Porritt's decision to leave three points on the board at the end of the first half proved costly. EGR goes home with its fourth straight state title in Division 3.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Great Burnzini - State Finals

The Great One is both happy and sad on this last weekend of prep football for 2009. On one hand, I'm so excited to watch CC and OL St. Mary's in the finals Saturday and hopefully witness both OC squads celebrating championship glory when its all said and done. On the other hand, I'm sad that there will be no gridiron battles to analyze until next August.
Well, don't feel too sorry for the Great Burnzini, the local hoops campaign tips off next week and he will certainly be popping his head out soon to keep his sterling prognostications going during bball season. Until then, here are my picks for the state championship
Game 1
Novi Detroit Catholic Central v. Sterling Heights Stevenson – This game has epic showdown written all over it - The two best teams in the state facing off for the big enchilada, that ever-coveted wooden mitten and statewide bragging rights for the next nine months. On paper and from a strategic point of view this contest is intriguing too, if only for its participants' contrasting playbooks: CC is all grit, steel-curtain defense, and running it down your throat John Cappaletti……er Niko Palazeti-style and Stevenson is all finesse, run-and-gun offense and Peyton Manning er……Jason Fracassa finesse.  This one will go down to the wire for sure. Look for CC to pull out a close one, courtesy of a 300 spot put on the Stevenson "D" by Palazeti and Anthony "Captain Cahos" Capatina and a pick-six late by junior cornerback Andrew Nelson to clinch it for the Shamrocks.
CC 38 Stevenson 34
Game 2
Orchard Lake St. Mary's v. East Grand Rapids – I know EGR is going to be favored in this game and the last few times the Eaglets have matched-up with the Yellow and Green things haven't much gone their way, but I have a strong feeling St. Mary's is going to complete the miracle and go from barely qualifying for the playoffs to hoisting the trophy at Ford Field. Since the post-season kicked-off last month, the Eaglets have been playing like a team possessed. The defense, led by Ernest "The Furnace" Thomas (UCLA) and "The Nasty Boys" (Marcus "The Sack Man" Gleaves, James "Doomsday" Ross, and Cortez "The Terminator" Riley) is swarming and constantly quarterback-hungry and the offense, led by senior field general Robert Bolden (going to Penn State next year and playing is best ball of the season in the playoffs) is humming like a pristine engine on a cherry red '67 Corvette. Watch out EGR QB Ryan Elbe, the Sack Man is coming for ya and he ain't one to take lightly.  "The Furnace" blazes his way to 120 yards and 3 TD's on the ground and Bolden tosses the game-winner to Allen Robinson in OT for the Eaglets' first title since the year 2000.
St. Mary's 33 EGR 30 (OT)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ford Field Fantasies

Let me first start by saying HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all you prep fiends and not to worry because your ultimate fix is coming in just two days,  when two of the best football squads the OC has to offer – CC and OL St. Mary's – take the field this Saturday to battle for state championships in downtown Detroit.
Burney just had a hella good Thanksgiving feast – his favorite meal of the entire calendar year – and then dosed off for a bit. While in my belly-stuffed slumber, I had dreams of Ford Field.
And for reading pleasure, I have decided that I will share a few with you guyz – I think you're going to like them!
"The Nasty Boys", my new nickname for the fierce and ferocious defensive trio of St. Mary's underclassmen, Marcus "The Sack Man" Gleaves, James "Doomsday" Ross, and Cortez "The Terminator" Riley, going ballistic all over the EGU backfield.
The Eaglets Ernest Thomas being, well…Ernest Thomas.
OLSM senior signal caller Robert Bolden getting buck like Michael Redd on the EGU defense.
My main homeboy, Niko "Biggie" Palazeti, doing his best Jerome Bettis impression and bruising and barreling his way to a school finals record of 210 yards (breaking former Shamrocks' super stud Derek Brooks' 204 yard record from the 2002 state championship game.)
CC defensive back Andrew Nelson (game-clinching 4th down deflection in the end zone in OT against Canton in quarters) making another huge defensive play down the stretch – this time against Stevenson and all-everything QB Jason Fracassa. Can you say PICK SIX!
Nelson's running buddy in the Shamrocks defensive backfield, Jon Savakus, collecting a pair of interceptions of Jason Fracassa passes himself.
Here's to all you OC state finalists turning Burney's fantasies of Ford Field fun into a reality!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Training Camp Report - The Queens of Sting

Okay, so yesterday I broke down Birmingham Detroit Country Day's high-flying boys hoop squad and now it's time for the girls. Returning a trifecta of core players off back-to-back Class B state titles as well as sporting a pair of ultra-talented underclassmen, the Lady Jackets will pack just as much sting, if not more, on the prep hardwood this year as their highly-touted male counterparts.
First off, DCD has Madison Williams, a wiry, 6-6 senior center who recently inked with Michigan State. This girl likes to swat away shots in the lane like Homer Simpson loves donuts and beer - in other words, quite a bit. She had a state finals record 11 blocks in last season's championship game triumph over GR Catholic Central. Williams is more than just long arms and defense too, displaying a velvety soft touch around the basket and a nifty jump hook shot. Unlike previous seasons where she has deferred to past superstar teammates Erica Solomon (Notre Dame) and Amber Moore (U of Illinois), this year head coach Frank Orlando will place a bulk of the squad's scoring load squarely on the two-time all-state shoulders. There is no doubt in my mind, my main homegirl, Maddie, is up to the challenge and I predict she significantly ups her scoring average this campaign.
Then there's Troy Hambric and Imari Redfield, both highly-intelligent and athletic floor leaders who were each key cogs in the Jackets last two state championship runs. Hambric signed with Loyola (Illinois) two weeks ago and Redfield looks sharp running the floor in practice coming off a partial-ACL tear suffered early last spring.
Rounding out the starting line-up this season will be coach Orlando's two diaper dandies, super-sophs Aerial Powers and Amber Dean. In just the small glimpse I've gotten of Powers and Dean tells me the program could have another deadly-combo like Solomon and Moore on their hands.
That said, lost from the 2009 team were 5 separate DI players, like Moore and Sherena Taylor (Georgia Tech).
The thing that puts this Jackets team over the edge, like always is Frank Orlando, entering his 42nd year on the prep sidelines in the state of Michigan. With a remarkable 10 state titles under his belt, Orlando's resume speaks for itself. He's a one of a kind bench tactician and the picture of cool and calm when leading his ship. His players love him and he knows the ins and outs of the game of basketball like the back of his hand – the consummate teacher/coach.  
This year will be exciting because of the blend of veteran and young talent that will fill out the playing rotation," Orlando said in his office one afternoon last week. "I think there might be a few people out there that think we'll be down this season because we lost so much from the last two state title teams. But I don't think they're looking closely enough. I'm not saying we're a shoe in to win another state championship, however, I can say will still be a force to be reckoned with. These younger girls can play and the captains like Maddie, Troy, and Imari are great teachers and have imparted a lot of wisdom on them since they started playing together last summer. I faith in these girls and this team to successfully carry on the tradition this program has built. Wherever that leads us by the end of the season, I'm pretty sure at that point in time we'll be the best team this group could possibly be."

Training Camp Report - The Kings of Sting

I stopped by Birmingham Detroit Country Day last week and popped in on boys basketball coach Kurt Keener and girls basketball coach Frank Orlando for a little pre-season face-time. Needless to say, both Keener and Orlando are jacked for the start-up of their respective schedules in the next two weeks. And why wouldn't they be excited? The Yellowjacksts will be at their stinging best in both girls and boys prep hoops this upcoming season and each will most likely be favorites for claiming state championship rings when March Madness gets on its way in three and half months.
Here is my first '09/10 training camp report – DCD Boys Basketball
(Stay tuned tomorrow for my second training report on the DCD girls hoopsters)
The DCD boys will once again be super-athletic and talent-laden, but probably not as deep as past teams and certainly not as big with the transfer of 6-8 junior power forward, Urban Bingham (now across town at North Farmington).  Keener will go with a lot of multiple guard sets and try his best to have his squad take full advantage of the senior point guard Ray McCallum's spectacular playmaking ability. McCallum is an All-American candidate and someone Keener calls the best prep floor general he's coached in his 30 years on the job. And in case you didn't, know Keener has coached some pretty darn good teams and outstanding players. Even minus Bingham, DCD's Amir William's - a 6-9 , heavily-recruited junior center, whose play mirrors a younger Dwight Howard - is one of the top big men in the state and makes the Yellowjackets front-court imposing with his presence alone. Spelling McCallum and Willams, will be a cadre of speedy guards and wing players. Combo-guards Chris Fowler and Lee Bailey are shifty on the break and in their mid-range games and compliment McCallum very nicely on the floor. Cagey swingmen, Kenny Knight and Josh Harris will split time at the "3" spot and along with Williams will be the beneficiary of many McCallum alley-oops. Junior marksman, Mahesh Umasankar, will take graduated Jordan Dumars' spot in the line-up as the team's designated 3-point assassin and senior Matt Levrette, a second year letter winner, will get some clock backing up McCallum, Fowler, and Bailey.
DCD last won a state title in 2007 with a team led by Darnell Brown (Bowling Green) and Keith Benson (Oakland). Despite having outstanding regular season records the past two seasons, the Jackets have failed to live up to expectations in the post-season, getting ousted both years in the quarters by scrappy Flint Powers' teams. This year's group will have to be mentally tougher and show a little bit more resolve than recent editions of Jackets' hoop squads if they want to get past another sure-to-be hard-nosed Powers team. With McCallum entering his second season in the blue and gold and finally completely acclimated to the local prep scene – he played his first two seasons in Indiana – I'm confident that he will have DCD playing its best ball of the year come playoff time. Translation – Burney forsees McCallum and Country Day will take home Kurt Keener's 8th state title and its second over four seasons. Ray McCallum is that good!
"He's the best point guard in the history of the school, I can tell you that right now before he even starts his senior season," said Keener. "I think he's the best point guard in the state this year too. He's just so smart and smooth. His on-court IQ is one of the highest I've ever coached. He can score and create at such a high level and that's a rare combination. All the guys on this year's team are first rate competitors and there are no egos. This group is real close knit off the court as well and it shows when they're on the floor together."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback - And Then There Were Two!

Two teams from the rough and rugged OC remain alive to play for state championships this weekend at Ford Field - CC and OL St. Mary's. The Shamrocks rocked and rolled to a 31-0 stomping of Holt in a D1 semi and The Eaglets soared over a previously-undefeated De Witt team 44-27, behind QB Rober Bolden's 4 TD's.
Way to go fellas, so ya at The Dome!
Orchard Lake St.  Mary has been going up against East Grand Rapids so much these past three seasons, head coach George Porritt and the Eaglets athletic brass should consider having the Catholic League extend an invitation to EGR to join the conference full-time. OLSM will play EGR for a D3 state title this weekend at Ford Field, in a re-match of the 2007 championship game and the '09 season opener, both EGR wins.  This weekend's tilt will be the fourth time these programs have squared off in two years. Since 2007, the Eaglets have yet to defeat their opponents from the western part of the state, but Burney suspects that this is their year to win it all – ipso ergo OLSM defeats EGR for the crown and the Eaglets' state title since 2000 on its way.   
Burney wants to apologize to CC's senior fullback Niko Palazeti, who was short changed some 30 yards in my game column from Sunday's paper. I tallied the bulldozing Shamrock runner for 142 yards and two rushing scores, but the Detroit News had him for almost 175 yards. I'm going to say the News had it right and I must have mis-calculated (Even though Burney is a prep sports machine in most every way possible, math has never been his strong suit). So, in saying that, I send out my further propers to my boy, "The Notorious N.I.P." – 'cause he runs like BIGGIE SMALLS used to rap – who really had a better game in CC's 31-0 beat down of Holt in a D1 semi-final than I gave him credit for.  Alright, so here's how were going to solve this same problem from happening this weekend in the state final against SH Stevenson. "Biggie" Palazeti is going to go for an even 200 yards on the ground and make the addition nice and even for Burney as he barrels his way for another pair of scores while bringing home CC's first state title since 2003. and oh, by the way, Burney also wants to shout out to Palazeti's backfield-mate the ever-shifty and slick Anthony "The Captain of Cahos" Capatina, who scampered for a respectable 85 yards and one score - a 16-yarder in the firsr quarter of the Holt game to kick-off the contest's scoring.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bonus Bytes - Instant Feedback

Some observations from Saturday's state football semi-final games involving the four teams - Clarkston, CC, Brother Rice, and OL St. Mary's - from the OC:
I hate to second guess any of the county's outstanding stable of head coaches, but I'm thinking if longtime Clarkston sideline general Kurt Richardson had to do it over again, he would have had Tyler Scarlett take a knee in the final 40 seconds of the Wolves 37-35 heartbreaking loss to SH Stevenson.
St. Mary's Robert Bolden went all ROBERT BOLDEN (145 yds and 3 TD's through the air and 85 yards and one touchdown on the ground) all over a highly-vaunted De Witt team and the Eaglets, who started the year 0-2, are going to their second state final in the last three seasons. 
I'm gong to start calling the CC defense the "Cy Squad," as in former pitching legend, Cy Young, because the Shamrock's "D" pitches shutout like a grizzled, MLB vet. CC's 31-0 stomping of Holt gives the team an astounding 8 shutouts for the 2009 season.
Keep your heads up, C-Town and Rice, you boyz both had great seasons and have nothing to be ashamed of!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


CC Rolls Into D1 State Final With Another Shutout
Scott M. Burnstein
Special to The Oakland Press
Things are finally back to normal for the Novi Detroit Catholic Central football team. After surviving an a rare nip-and-tuck overtime battle against Canton last week, the Shamrocks got back to their lopsided winning ways on Saturday afternoon by decimating Holt 31-0 in a Division 1 state semi-final game played at Lansing Everett High School.
Catholic Central improves to 13-0 overall on the season and has reservations for its 13th state finals appearance next weekend at Ford Field in downtown Detroit. The Shamrocks defense, which has been winning games by over a 28-point per game average margin of victory, now has a total of eight shutouts for the 2009 campaign.
"One for the thumb" will be the program's motto this week while preparing for the state finals as Catholic Central will seek to get head coach Tom Mach his 10th career state championship ring. The last time the Shamrocks won a state title was in 2003.
Mach, in his 34th season on the sidelines, was more than pleased with his team's effort. "This was CC football in its purest form," he said. "We came out there like crazed dogs and got after it on every play. The running game was superb and are defense was bringing it's "A-game" on every snap. Everyone came to play today, from the coaching and training staff down the line to every player that suited up. They all got the job done when it was needed the most. I'm very proud of the whole team."
This game was over fast – literally and figuratively. The entire contest lasted less than two hours and the Shamrocks wasted little time imposing their will on their opponents. Scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions of the game, Catholic Central took a comfortable 21-0 halftime lead.  Senior tailback Anthony Capatina's 16-yard scoring run opened the Shamrocks' first half scoring output and then senior fullback Niko Palazeti closed it with a pair of goal-line end zone-plunges.
Following a scoreless third quarter, Justin D'Agostino connected on a 37-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 24-0 and Justin Messner's 2-yard touchdown run closed things out late in the game.
Palazeti continued punishing defenders as he as all season long by rushing for a game-high 142 yards. Making it to a Division 1 state championship is a dream come true for the bruising 6-2, 240 pound runner. "Getting to the state final has been my goal since putting on a CC uniform in the ninth grade," he said surrounded by reporters after the game. "I've been dreaming about it for over three years and we finally did it. This team is all heart. We live and die together as a group. I'm going to cherish this moment for the rest of my life, no matter what happens from here on out. We had a great week of practice and it carried over onto the field. The defense was hitting hard all game and the offense was getting outstanding blocking, so we were able to break open some holes and do some damage. We're a pretty difficult team to stop when we're hitting on all cylinders like we were today."  
Senior middle-linebacker and co-captain, Mike Kinville led a brick wall of a defense, which came up with a huge goal-line stand early in the second quarter, with nine tackles and two sacks. Shamrocks' senior quarterback Sam Landry kept up his steady play behind center, managing the game perfectly for Mach and his staff.
Holts concludes its year with a final overall record of 11-2.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Great Burnzini - State Semi-Finals

2009 Prep Football Final Four - OC REPRESENT (4 teams left)
Holt v. Novi Detroit Catholic Central (at Lansing Everett) – There's just way too much Niko Palazeti, Anthony Capatina, and the Shamrocks' big play defense for the "Holt-sters" to handle. Senior QB Sam Landry comes up big too, passing for a pair of TD's in the CC win.
CC 34 Holt 21
Clarkston v. Sterling Heights Stevenson (Troy Athens) – It will be a battle for the ages at the QB spot when Tyler Scarlett and C-Town and Jason Fracassa and Stevenson lock horns on Saturday night under the lights at Athens. This game will be a Metro-Detroit version of last Sunday's Brady-Manning showdown that produced over 60 points of vertically-charged action. Expect the same when Scarlett and Fracassa face-off. Scarlett scrambled for the winning score in OT and the Wolves punch their ticket to Ford Field and the DI state finals.
Clarkston 37-34 (OT)
Birmingham Brother Rice v. Lowell (Howell) – The Warriors offense is peaking at the exact right time – the receiving duo of Kevonte Martin-Manley and Nate Saldivar Garcia could be the best pair of pass catchers playing together in the state. The Rice defense, led by senior all-state tackling machine Justin Cherocchi, and hard-hitting juniors Jumbo Hamilton and Jimmy Pickens (also the team's top rusher), has been bringing relentless pressure to opposing offenses all post-season long. I'm going to nickname the Rice defensive unit, "The Juice Crew," because these guys play with an electric spirit and light up the competition. Nothing changes Saturday afternoon and the Warriors roll.
Rice 35 Lowell 27
Orchard Lake St. Mary's v. DeWitt (Fenton) – Plain and simple, you can't stop St. Mary's Ernest Thomas, you can only hope to contain him! Watch my main man, Ernie, get busy for another trifecta of TD's (he's got 9 already this post-season) and lead an Eaglet team that was a mere 4-4 in the regular season and had to sweat out a last-second at large playoff bid back into Ford Field for the second time in the last three years.
OLSM 28 De Witt 24

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bonus Bytes - Random Thoughts

Word on the street is that former all-state Andover point guard Cameron Bell will be joining current Seaholm all-state swingman Richaud Pack at Florida International next season to play for Detroit hoops legend Isaiah Thomas. Pack just signed with FIU last week. Bell, a high scoring playmaker and the best hoopster in Barons history, played last season at Lake Superior State and is down in South Florida right now working out with the team and will suit up next year when Pack gets there to join him. If Zeek keeps up this trend of plucking some of the best the OC has to offer, this area could end up being a pipeline to Miami, in the same way city of Detroit was to the Missouri Tigers program back in the 1980's. Interesting stuff!
I've noticed although this blog is getting a lot of traffic, not a lot of you readers post comments. I encourage everyone who enjoys or doesn't enjoy but still reads Burney's brand of prep eye candy to tell me what you think about the issues I write about by posting any and all of your feelings, feedback, comments, questions, or constructive criticisms. If you think I'm full it, tell me and why. If you want to me discuss a certain topic that is not being covered, let me know! Basically, I just want to have more open communication with my reading audience. And remember you can always email me at and I will promptly respond.
Clarkston senior quarterback Tyler Scarlett is so money, he should die his hair green for the Wolves showdown with SH Stevenson and its superior signal caller, Jason Fracassa, this Saturday in the D1 Final Four. Wouldn't that be cool? I think it would be the ultimate Jim McMahon moment and spark C-Town into the state finals, alas Jimmy Mac's head gear leading the Bears to the Super Bowl in '85. Maybe TS could wear a Jimmy Mac style head Adidas head band in honor of the punky QB of yesteryear. At the very least, their games are similar enough to warrant it.  Come on Tyler, do it for Burney!
I'm thrilled that the Ferndale boys basketball program made the right choice and hired former Eagles' hardwood legend and UofM star, Tom Staton, Sr., as its new head coach last spring. Staton's presence will give the program a much needed fresh perspective and renewed work ethic. Coming off a number of mediocre years, the Eagles and their fans deserve a boys basketball team that lives up to the standards of their rich school hoops tradition. Back in the 60's, Ferndale won multiple state titles under legendary head coach, Roy Burkhart and then throughout 80's with future MSU Spartan Dwayne Stephens and in the 90's with his brother Jarrett (Penn State) and Rashad Phillips (UofD-Mercy), the Eagles were Oakland County powerhouses. I know Staton – whose Tom, Jr. played at Clarkston and is currently hooping at Gardner-Webb University – will do his alma mater proud. Good Luck, Tom, Sr.!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dreaming of Hardwood Heaven

Lately I've been dreaming of hardwood heaven – for Burney that specifically translates to the sure-to-be exhilarating 2009/2010 OC prep basketball campaign. With so many great players, great teams, and great match-ups, it's hard not to get jacked up for the tip off to the season, which for the girls starts up in two weeks and for the boys, three weeks.
A few things I'm extra excited about:
Ray McCallum, Ray McCallum, Ray McCallum!!!! I've said it before and I'll say it again, McCallum is the best prep point guard I've ever seen play.
Seeing Ray McCallum's former Country Day teammate , 6-8 big man Urban Bingham run the break in his new North Farmington uniform, take a feed from Kyle Vinales (Grand Valley State), and slam it home for the deuce.
The vicious inside-outside girls hoop tandems of Detroit Country Day's Madison Williams (C) and Troy Hambric (G), Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes Lauren Robak (G) and Alexis Doetch (C), and North Farmington's Lyndsey Booker (PG) and Jenna Bachrouche (F).
Watching the newly-formed Southfield backcourt of Carlton Brundidge and Pee Wee Barnes (a highly-touted transfer from Detroit Community) take the Blue Jays back to the promise land, while leaving a gaggle of opposing guards with broken ankles in their wake.
P.S. Brundidge, the state's top junior guard, WILL drop a 50 spot on the competition before the New Year. That's a Great Burnzini guarantee!
While we're on the subject of predictions for personal point tallies this upcoming winter, the Great Burnzini also guarantees that the aforementioned Lauren Robak of WOLL – the OC's female version of the high-voltage Brundidge – will go for 40+ before the season is out.
The new Pontiac Phoenix boys hoops squad which will combine last year's Northern crew of returning players, Dominique Shaw, Ant Adams, Jabari Martin, and James Odneal and an undefeated Central JV team to make the first year program more than formidable.
The many gravity defying dunks sure to be delivered by Seaholm junior forward Shawn Conway.
Quarterbacks turned point guards Tyler Scarlett (Clarkston), Ryan Dingman (Waterford Kettering), Joe Diamond (Walled Lake Central), Rob Feeman (Clawson), Ryan Horvath (Madison Heights Lamphere), Kevin Bolhuis (Stoney Creek), and Vince Salatino (FH Harrison).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback - The OC's Got That Boom Boom Pow!

With an astounding four teams (CC, Brother Rice, OL St. Mary's, & Warren De La Salle) advancing into state semi-final games, I think it's fair to say now - not that there were really any doubts in the first place - that the Catholic League is the toughest and best football conference in the state.
Mark it down! You read it here first. Burney is telling everyone that Clarkston and Catholic Central are on a collision course for an all-county throwdown in the D1 state championship game. It's inevitable. It's written in the stars, almost pre-destined. The'09 prep football season in the OC has been so spectacular it's only natural that the county's two best teams square off with a state title in the balance. The battle for ultimate county bragging rights this season will also be for that ever-elusive wooden-mitten.
Attention all Shamrocks and Wolves fans: Burney now officially gives you permission to start making plans for a trip to Ford Field on the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, Brother Rice senior QB Frankie Popp got an early start in his preparation for carving the Turkey Day goose by carving up the Midland defense in Rice's 49-27 throttling of the Chemics last Saturday in a D2 regional championship game.  Popp punked Midland's secondary for 270 yards and three TD's.
On a side note, Burney sends major props out to Popp for taking the recent-decision by the Rice coaching staff to give some of his snaps to junior back-up Tyler Lendzion (whose been outstanding by the way) so well. A lot of weaker-minded kids would have thrown in the towel and whined about getting the shaft by his coach. Not Mr. Popp. Instead, the senior slinger used it as motivation and is playing his best ball of the year right now in the playoffs when the Warriors need him the most. The way Popp has handled this situation bodes well for his chance at landing himself a college scholarship and tells you all you have to know about this kid's cement-like character and leadership ability. Way to go, Frankie!
If you see St. Mary's Ernest Thomas around town this week and there are flames of fire surrounding him as he walks by, don't be alarmed. Scoring 9 rushing TD's in three playoff wins tends to create that kind of scorching heat around a primetime player such as Thomas. The UCLA-bound recruit busted loose for 167 yards and 3 TD's – all in a three minute and forty five second span in the 4th quarter – to spark the Eaglets to a D3 regional title on Saturday afternoon.
Some mid-major from this region better do themselves a favor and scoop up Clarkston senior QB Tyler Scarlett before it's too late. Scarlett sports a rare combination of a high-on field IQ, super arm, and mobile feet. His instincts behind center and his touch on deep throws are second to none as well.  Burney has a hard time understanding why this kid isn't getting more offers. Well, Tyler, Burney can tell you one thing: Win a state championship for C-Town in two weeks and the recruiters will be forced to take notice.  

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hoop Queens

Last week, I posted Burney's own all-time Oakland County hoops squad for the boys. This week, its the girls turn. And boy has the area had a lot of great girls basketball players. Lets take a look.
note: this team is only for the last 20 years, since even Burney's almost-endless vat of prep knowledge has its limits
All-Time Oakland County Girls Basketball Team
Jennifer Shasky (Birmingham Marian) - A legend in the pantheon of Marian greats, winning a state championship and Ms. Basketball in 1988. Starred at George Washington in the early-90's
Peggy Evans (Birmingham Detroit Country Day) - Arguably the greatest OC female hoopster ever. Like Shasky, Evans won the ever-coveted Ms. Basketball Award and won a state title, pouring in MHSAA record 47 points in the 1989 state-final game. Oh, yeah, she also went on to star at woman's college bball power Tennessee under the John Wooden of woman's hoops, Pat Summit herself.
Jennifer Thomas (Birmingham Detroit Country Day) - Won multiple state championships in the late-90's for the Yellowjackets and then went onto a stellar college career at North Carolina.
Laurie Ales  (Oakland Christian) - Without a doubt the best small-school player to ever suit up in the county. Led the Lancers to a state title in 1992 and led the OC in scoring with 27 ppg as a junior in '91.
Jessica Pike  (Clawson) - Outstanding prep career at Clawson and continued her steady guard play down the road at Oakland University from 2005-2009.
Jeanine Augustine/Courtney Ruffing (Rochester Adams) - This pair of Highlanders were leaders of the Adams girls hoops glory days of the 1990's. Augustine would go onto star at Notre Dame in the Big East and Ruffing at Oakland U.
Head Coach - Mary Ciccerone (Marian)
Head Coach - Frank Orlando (DCD)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

All-County Soccer Team 2009

2009 All-County Soccer
MVP – Reed Losee (Lake Orion)
MIP – Joey Dillon (RH Adams)
Top Playmaker – Josh Gatt (Novi Detroit Catholic Central)
Top Net-minder – Danny Torriglia (Birmingham Brother Rice)
Coach of The Year – Chris Stevonovic (WL Northern)
1st Team
F Joey Dillon – Rochester Hills Adams
F Peter Hensoldt – Birmingham Brother Rice
F Reed Losee – Lake Orion
F Adam Wright – Walled Lake Western
F Kotaro Mitsuhashi – Birmingham Detroit Country Day
M Josh Gatt – Novi Detroit Catholic Central
M Nate Hicklin – Troy
M Kyle Rutz – Walled Lake Northern
M Tariq Akeel – Birmingham Detroit Country Day
U Adam Gorski – Birmingham Brother Rice
U Brett Bukari – Birmingham Detroit Country Day
U Mike Fennessey – Birmingham Brother Rice
D Sean Cunningham – Troy
D Billy Stacey – Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook
G Kevin Soisson – Rochester Hills Adams
G Justin Fragnoli – Birmingham Detroit Country Day
G Danny Torriglia – Birmingham Brother Rice
G Mitchell Thompson – Walled Lake Northern
Head Coach – Josh Hickey (RH Adams)
Head Coach – Barry Brodsky (Birmingham Brother Rice)
2nd Team
Andy Holmes – BH Cranbrook
Alex King – BH Cranbrook
Jeff Hammond – BH Cranbrook
Kyle Alesheski – WL Western
Austin Rogers – WL Northern
Cody Hall – Brother Rice
Alex Sweraka – Troy Athens
David Ostergard – Troy Athens
Blake Skamiera – Lake Orion
Brandon Hess – CC
Chris Slack – Novi
Caleb Stanko – AH Oakland Christian
Ben Weinstein – Country Day
Morley Burns – RH Adams
Andy Rouff (G) – BH Cranbrook
Tom Duquette (G) – Novi
Alec Bezera (G) – Troy Athens
Matt Smolinski (G) – Troy
Wes Harding (G) – CC
Head Coach – Brian O' Leary (Novi)
Head Coach – Paul Bartoshuk (DCD)